It was the perfect day, said Slaven Bilic after his West Ham team defied the odds and humbled one of the title contenders at their home ground with a confident display.
Also online: Reece Oxford lauded for his part in the win
Bilic had nothing but praise for his team’s performance saying that “it could not have gone any better” after a remarkable 2-0 win against Arsenal at The Emirates.
Two goals in each half from midfield powerhouse Cheikhou Kouyate and Argentine forward Mauro Zarate resulted in the Hammers ending a nine-game hoodoo against the Gunners.
Former Besiktas chief Bilic lauded the performance of his players, but warned they should not rest on their laurels as it is only the start of a long campaign.
Bilic said: “No matter what you do the players have to believe in your work. Everyone is sceptical when a new manager comes but the best proof of that is to get three points, a point or a good performance. Today, we got all three and I can’t fault the players at all . It’s a great start for us, but it’s only a start.”
Before the victory in North London, West Ham lost more Premier League games on the opening weekend than any other team, while Arsenal had only lost one of their last 14 in the first game of the season.
Hammers shot stopper and fans’ favourite Adrian managed to keep out the likes of Olivier Giroud, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, while Diafra Sakho and Dimitri Payet had opportunities to extend the lead.
Dimitri Payet, who provided Kouyate with the assist that created the first goal showed why he could be the deal of the season with some strong, committed and silky movement.
Arsenal’s German playmaker Ozil rarely made an impact on the game simply because of the outstanding display shown by a measured and mature showing by 16-year-old debutant Reece Oxford in the defensive midfield position.
The academy graduate showed true quality in phases of play to deal with the likes of Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey, all proven Premier League players.
Bilic insisted that he was not surprised that Oxford played such a fantastic game.
“Everyone keeps talking about Reece Oxford,” said the former Croatian national boss. “The risk is still not over, he’s not 19 years old, he still only 16. If he doesn’t play well then it’s me to blame as questions would be asked. When I pick the team I’m not thinking what will happen if it doesn’t work out.
Also online: 5 things about Slaven Bilic you probably didn't know
“We are a bit short on that position and I wanted someone to sit and drop into defence when needed. He has a presence, he’s mobile, he’s quick and he can play offensively. We’ve been preparing him for this for the past two weeks and the other players around him helped him out as well.”
The E13 club will be looking to maintain a good start to the season when they play two consecutive home games, first against Leicester City and then against Premier League new boys Bournemouth a week later.